Several student athletes in Hillsborough County were given awards in an annual spring banquet.

Several athletes in Hillsborough County were given awards in an annual Spring banquet.

Mark Church, head wrestling coach at Bloomingdale High School, was given the Joel Medgebow Wrestling Coach of the Year award. His team finished among the top three in the Jerry Mita Memorial tournament, the Ben Richards Memorial tournament, county championships and districts. The team placed first at the John Joyce Memorial tournament. He had nine regional qualifiers, four state qualifiers and one medalist on the team. 

“Coach Church has continued to grow our wrestling program this year and always puts his athletes in the best position to be successful,” said Bloomingdale athletic director Sara Bogue. “His wrestling knowledge is unmatched, and he gives countless hours to his athletes and the sport of wrestling. He has high expectations and holds his athletes accountable on and off the mat.”

Abigail Elwell of Lennard High School won the Happy Home Center Outstanding Flag Football Player of the Year award. She has been the quarterback of the team since her freshman year. The two-year team captain finished her senior year as the school’s all-time leading passer and touchdown leader with 16,794 yards and 242 touchdowns. She has the most wins as a QB with 63. Elwell was named County Player of the Year and 2A Florida Dairy Farmers Player of the Year. She will be attending the University of Florida and plans to major in exercise science. 

“It is such a high honor to be given this award,” said Elwell. “One, because there are so many players that are deserving of this award. And two, because I know that this goes to my school and team as well. This award not only goes to me but to my team, coaches and school, as none of this would have been possible without any of them.”

Nathan Ly of Armwood High School won the Andres Garcia Memorial Tennis Award. He lettered all four years in tennis and is a four-year team captain. He will attend the University of Florida and plans to major in electrical engineering.

“His leadership ability is seen in his selfless love for the game and his willingness to share that knowledge,” said his coach, Kyle Mt. Pleasant. “Without asking, we can count on him to work with the players and to have the patience to go over every detail and mechanic necessary to improve their game.” 

Thomas Gernhart from Brandon High School was named Male Wrestler of the Year.

He wrestled all four years and has 100 career pins and 138 wins. He is a three-time state placer and three-time district champion. As a junior, he was 45-9 and a district champion. As a senior, his record was 56-1, he was a district and region champion and he finished third in the state. He will be attending Coker University on a wrestling scholarship.

“He has a positive attitude and a great spirit for competitiveness,” said Brandon wrestling head coach Joe Cozart. “He has a high moral fiber for athletics, sportsmanship and academic accountability.”

Arden Swindle from Strawberry Crest High School was named Female Wrestler of the Year.

Since starting wrestling in 10th grade, her record was 15-1 as a sophomore, 23-3 as a junior and 17-6 as a senior. She’s a two-time state qualifier and a three-time region qualifier. Swindle is a two-time Hillsborough County champ and the 2024 FHSAA district champion. She will be attending Hillsborough Community College and plans on majoring in nursing.

“She is an excellent wrestler that is very positive and motivates those around her,” said coach Justin Weaver. “She is a team leader and one of the most accomplished female wrestlers in the school’s history.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.